Gardens to Visit

Gardens in B.C.

Abkhazi Garden - Victoria

Butchart Gardens - Victoria, B.C

The Gardens at Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP), home to the Pacific Horticulture College, presents a year-round garden experience that all can enjoy. Located just twelve kilometres north of Downtown Victoria, British Columbia, you will find a public garden lovingly cared for by volunteers, staff and students.

Milner Garden & Woodland - Qualicum Beach

Tofino Botanical Gardens - Tofino - Vancouver Island 

UBC Botanical Garden - Vancouver

Van Dusen Gardens - Vancouver, B.C.

Gardens in France

Rodin Museum and Gardens: One of largest collections of Rodin sculptures outside Paris. Gorgeous outside gardens display sculpture and a renovation project added small gardens adjacent to artworks- these  new small gardens exactly mirror the adjacent artwork so a blue flower field in a painting will be matched with an adjacent garden with identical plantings.

Gardens in the Pasadena Area CA

Arlington Gardens: Pasadena Area CA. Waterwise garden inspired by ‘Sun-drenched Gardens: The Mediterranean Style’. Three-acre community garden, planted and maintained by passionate and highly-talented neighbours who clearly love plants. Incorporates many elements of design superbly from the shapes of winding paths and private seating areas, fabulous plant combinations considering plant and leaf shapes and forms, and wonderful focal points. Xeriscape can be stunning and dense!

Descano Gardens: Pasadena Area CA. Great shaded walking trails with more than 1,000 camellias (many rare, Jan to Feb peak bloom) planted under large, centuries-old Coast Live Oaks which are “keystone” foundation trees in the ecosystem so support hundreds of species, 5-acre rose garden full of scented heritage and David Austin roses, fabulous cicad garden with more than 1,600 of these ancient plants and others like tree ferns and ginkos, whimsical ‘Nature’s Table’ of edibles, a small garden shop with novel containers. Nearby are village-like areas like Dundarave with hanging baskets and attractive plantings in the boulevards are pretty to walk through or for a lunch stop.

Huntington Botanical Gardens: Very popular public garden in Pasadena, CA. Large estate garden that is wonderful to walk around. Of note, large new entry gardens with beautiful beds and planters and a remarkable cactus garden.

The American Rose Society Trial Garden (on map in west Pasadena, but no website): Pasadena is home to the Rose Bowl so not surprisingly there is a Rose Society garden here that is maintained by an active group of rose enthusiasts, but while it has an impressive number of roses, their presentation in standard beds lacks the romance or grace you’d hope for in a rose garden.

Oak Knoll Neighbourhood: A few neighbourhoods in Canadian and US cities have stood out across time and never lost their beauty; this is one of them. Drive south fifteen minutes from the Old City Centre to the historic Langham Hotel to enjoy a wide range of gardens along the route from elegant, traditional gardens to fun and funky cacti gardens. Google ‘historic Oak Knoll’ to read about settlement patterns and history of the homes. For example, the small Craftsman homes were built by Caltech support staff in the 50s, larger homes by business owners. The story behind the rail line extension to Pasadena in the late 1800s built by a hotelier as a means to bring guests to his new Hotel Green is interesting. There is lots of interesting history and many homes of historical and architectural importance.

 California Institute of Technology Campus Walk: Always ranked the #1 or #2 university in the world, donors’ generous gifts have built a stunning campus which is wonderful to walk through: 400-year-old oak (planted when missionaries first settled on the CA coast), olive-edged walkways, community gardens, modern reflecting pool and more are interspersed among buildings with striking architecture and histories.

Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA: Register online ahead to get approval to visit. Gorgeous property in ecologically interesting area with Coast Live Oaks, sage, buckwheat, cacti, sycamore trees and more. Deer always there. Near Descano Gardens. The JPL facilities’ tour is excellent, too.

 Eaton Canyon Park: Hot and often steep trails, busy with dogs but interesting to see a native ecosystem with parts that have regenerated after a CA wildfire. Good to be reminded that the green lawns seen in yards are very far off the natural ecosystem of CA.


Gardens in the Philadelphia Area

Philadelphia Area Gardens

Boston is the US center of education, Silicon Valley the tech center, New York the theater center, and Philadelphia the garden centre with more than 30 stunning public gardens in 30 miles due to good soil, 3”-4” rain every month, moderate temperatures, and a history of passionate gardeners and horticulturalists since the city’s founding in the 1600s. Philadelphia was the first capital of the US and many great thinkers like Benjamin Franklin lived here which drove the founding of the first US botanical garden, American Horticultural Society (the library is a treat) and other horticultural institutions. Lewis and Clarke’s plant collection from their cross-America trip can be seen here, Hardy Plant, garden clubs and nurseries brim with enthusiasm, heritage physics gardens in hospitals and colonial home gardens have been reconstructed, community gardens showcase art, fountains and more, seed companies have their headquarters here, and historically many families build huge summer estates and gardens with new found wealth just outside Philadelphia so visiting is easy and a delight.

Few know that Philadelphia is an exciting city only an hour south of New York. The largest concentration of large public gardens in Philly are in the Brandywine Valley which is half an hour west of the city. Bucks County gardeners to the north claim to have the “finest private gardens” and venturing an hour past the Brandywine Valley area brings you into the strong Amish community in Lancaster County which has highly impressive farms and home gardens. Many are open to visit or stay. Seed company headquarters and seed trial fields, even the reconstituted (Burpee’s) Heronswood, can all be visited.

Many guide books outline scenic drives across historic covered bridges or out to coastal towns an hour east that range in style from Victorian gingerbread to 60’s funky motels and all have long, white-sand beaches. The whole city and surrounding areas are a wonderful travel destination. Philadelphia itself has a stunning museums and galleries with art with a very different feel to New York.

Overview and Links of Most Popular Gardens


Age matters so the arboreta in the area often have ancient trees on the lists of America’s “oldest” or “largest”. The West Coast has nothing comparable (and won’t for a few hundred years). Exceptional plant knowledge is seen in plant and tree choices. The Morris Arboretum is of note.

Bartram’s Garden: First botanical garden in the US. Uniquely, Franklinia alatamaha in the garden is the only species in this genus and is now extinct in the wild. (Plant breeders have recently introduced some new crosses with Gordonia lasianthus and Schima argenta, but these are hybrids crossed in cultivation.) The gardens themselves were neglected for many years but you can now see the work of volunteers showing progress. Volunteers are involved in many innovative gardening programs that focus on building a home apothecary or reach out to connect in nearby neighbourhoods which are culturally bright but often disadvantaged. Walking in the surrounding neighbourhood is not recommended, park only in Bartram’s parking lot.

Chanticleer Garden  makes many lists of worlds’ “finest”, “most creative” and “most romantic” gardens. Creative, edgy design

Longwood Gardens:  Varying Dupont family members built homes in the Brandywine Valley area in the 1900s and while Longwood is the largest it has many intimate areas. Though family members seemed to try to outdo their siblings in garden grandeur, there are personal family stories that make them seem more relatable- for example, the original Dupont owner of Longwood Gardens was an MIT engineer and he built the fountains to trial new designs and pumps so the fountains may not be so much about ego and show as nerdy science fun. Imagine ladies in gauzy dresses dancing on the lawns in the 20s.

Gardens in the U.S.

ProFlowers - Guide to Botanical Gardens, Flower shows and Horticultural societies in the US

Shore Acres Gardens - Oregon